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Kūkai (774–835)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G128-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 02, 2022, from

Article Summary

Kūkai, also known by his posthumous honorific title Kōbō Daishi, was the founder of Japanese Shingon (‘truth word’ or ‘mantra’) Buddhism and is often considered the first comprehensive philosophical thinker in Japanese history. Building on the Buddhist esoteric tradition first developed in India and then in China, where Kūkai encountered it, he maintained that reality is a cosmic person, the Buddha Dainichi. Dainichi’s cosmic thoughts, words and deeds form microcosmic configurations, resonances and patterns of change. By performing Shingon rituals, one can supposedly accord with the microcosmic constituents and know the foundational structures of reality that compose the sensory world in which we ordinarily live.

Citing this article:
Kasulis, Thomas P.. Kūkai (774–835), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-G128-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2022 Routledge.

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